NIH shaking up hospital leadership to fix patient safety problems

NIH shaking up hospital leadership to fix patient safety problems
© NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) plans to oust three of its longtime hospital leaders this year in an attempt to resolve glaring patient safety issues.

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins is looking to hire three new officials to lead the clinical center, according to a report Tuesday by The Washington Post.

The hospital’s largest shakeup in about 50 years comes just after an outside review found NIH hospital staff had been prioritizing research over patient safety.

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Collins said the months-long probe into the hospital’s practices — which found systemic problems with patient safety — marked “the darkest moments” of his seven years at the NIH, according to the Post.

The hospital at the NIH, described on its website as “America’s research hospital,” offers free care to patients with certain, usually rare, conditions. The patients then become part of research studies that help develop treatments.

But an independent review, which was made public last month, found that clinical research at the hospital “suffers from shortcomings that potentially impact patient safety and research outcomes.”

The panel of experts who took part in the review said the NIH’s problems would require a sweeping overhaul to resolve.

Francis said in an interview with the Post that he believes the hospital’s management needs to be reorganized “to more effectively focus on standards of patient safety, compliance and oversight, which have been very difficult to achieve.”

“We believe the time has come to recognize that the Clinical Center model needs to evolve and function the way other hospitals do,” Collins said.